A chilling video released by an online prankster dramatically demonstrated how easy it can be to lure an underage girl out of her home and into the arms of a potential predator.
YouTube sensation Coby Persin released a new video on Monday that has become an instant viral hit, garnering more than 13 million views and serving as a stark reminder for parents and kids alike about the possible dangers associated with social media.
In the seven-minute video, Persin, 21, enlists the parents of three girls, ages 12, 13 and 14, in a test to see if the girls will communicate and meet him as he pretends to be a 15-year old boy who friends them on Facebook.
The parents of the girls were generally confident their daughters would not meet up with their new online “friend,” but in each case they followed through on the meeting.
Persin tells PEOPLE he was also unsure whether the girls would follow through on their plans.
“You can see it in my face in the video. I was nervous, but once they came I was shocked,” he tells PEOPLE.
In the experiment, Persin assumes a fake identity, complete with a Facebook page (now deleted) for Jason Biazzo. With the parents’ permission, he sent friend requests to each girl. Persin says he initially reached out to six girls and chose the three whom he felt were easiest to lure given their interest. He says the trio, who all live in Brooklyn, New York, were quick to text and used a lot of acronyms, like “LOL” and emoticons in conversation.
“It wasn’t that hard,” Persin says of forging a connection. “The girls just wanted someone to talk to.”
Perhaps the most shocking of the three scenarios occurs at the end of the video, when a 14-year-old girl named Jenna enters a windowless van driven by a man she was told is the 15-year-old boy’s older brother. With her parents hiding out in the back wearing ski masks, they initially grab her and momentarily give her time to think she is being abducted before revealing themselves.
A Father Speaks Out
Jenna’s father tells PEOPLE he and her mom previously tried to educate her about the dangers of social media, and were stunned when she entered the van.
“We thought pretty much we would go through the motions and absolutely no way she would respond,” says Robert, who did not disclose his last name. “We speak a lot to her so we feel we’d done our due diligence.”
His reaction when Jenna entered the van?
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SOURCE: PEOPLE, Maria Coder